Why is it necessary for creatives to set goals?

The following you are about to read, is dedicated to the hopeless romantics constantly looking for inspiration, the expressionists marking their territories on the street walls in the city of Johannesburg, the occasional ‘artist’ that would miss a meal (even if they are not paying), to complete the next art-piece for the exhibition – while tranced out in deep instrumental music, the musicians working on their next hit single, the graphic designers that are currently pushing through the night to meet the deadline (again), and lastly, any caffeine-driven creatives I may have missed. I wouldn’t want to exclude the inventors or revolutionists either, because they too need to think outside the box – so I think let’s just go with excluding the politicians, not that they don’t need to, but will they? Let’s not waste time…

I love creatives, they make life so fun and interesting. They intrigue me and are the reason I chose to be a graphic designer – because creatives are an inspiration. Why choose a life path where you do the same thing every day?

There is one thing though, about a lot of creatives that I have noticed. It is crazy to see creatives doing such extraordinary work, but they look so depressed. The deadly syndrome of never being satisfied. I think that making a difference in life is important, but what is even more important is actually realizing that you have made a difference. Some people go through their lives so caught up in the race to achieve, that they forget to acknowledge their achievements! What’s more, they forget to acknowledge what their goals were in the first place.

So my question to all the creatives is this, what is it that you want to achieve in life? The reason I am asking, is because it is a challenge for me to think of something to achieve – and stick to it. I don’t want to plan my entire life out now already, what is the fun and spontaneity of that? I want to just be a free creative. 

I don’t necessarily have an end result, but, I feel the constant need to always work towards something, no matter how much I learn, there is always room for more growth, and the more I learn, the more I actually realise how little I know.

This is why it is so important for me to celebrate the wins, because I know I will never be truly satisfied no matter what I achieve. When something is achieved a protest occurs inside of my head, something like this: “We want more!, We want more!”, as my brain cells are all holding up protest boards saying – “inspire me”, “I am hungry”. So if this is the case, why not enjoy the moments of small victory, before moving on to the next. If you don’t, when will you ever enjoy yourself or be proud? So my ultimate life goal is to keep learning and growing, for now in graphic design and expanding my knowledge to eventually be able to make tutorials, teach others, invent new ideas, impact people through my voice as well as my graphics, using my time wisely and simply just never give up, and because of my goal setting, thankfully this journey has already begun.

I doubt I would ever accomplish this without goal setting. Why? Because creative people live and breathe life in a dynamic way, never doing the same thing twice, the constant learning and exploring, so without set goals, personally for me, I will never achieve anything because my mind changes every day. One day I will be thinking of creating a photoshop composition and the next I want to learn to create an animated walk cycle using a rubber hose, where, in the end, I kind of know the basics, but never perfecting anything or making something worthy of sharing, as a perfectionist this has been a big problem for me.

An example of this that I have recently been dealing with is my one goal which is to build an easy-to-maintain Instagram page with my designs. Yes, I got some cool posts, but when I put them all together on my page they didn’t gel well together and it looked like different posts from Tom, Dick, and Harry. Tom’s style is cartoon humor, Dick loves sexy ass branding and, well, Harry is just the all-round photographer/ cool effects kinda guy. You can imagine what all those designs looked like when they were put together – no real focus, no real message – just, bleh. I realized that the reason for this happening, is that without any set goal, my thoughts on what to create daily constantly changed and I never established a set style to focus on or to master in. Rather I tried to create whatever came to mind at that moment and created what looked like a dirty threesome of Tom, Dick, and Harry. Eish!

So, what I am trying to say here is, creatives, all of us, lose focus easily. Hopefully, you haven’t lost focus yet. But, we need to realize and understand how this trait can restrict us in following what we as creatives were ultimately set on this earth to do; create.

So follow these few rules, and become the ultimate creating creative this planet is yet to see, and oh, it looks soo good. Can you see it?

Step 1: Determine what it is you really want in life

Ponder on this one for a few days, or even a few weeks, because this is the foundation. You need to establish exactly what it is you want to achieve, and tune your heart and prepare your mind to go full force into that direction. My philosophy in life is either be piping hot or ice cold, there is no point in being lukewarm. Just choose a good direction – damn it! And go full steam into it, with all your ambition, curiosity and creativity. At least that way you will find out sooner, rather than later if it is the right path that you’re on, and you will still have time to change direction. the slower you go, and the more you test the waters of too many ponds, the longer it is going to take to decide – just trust your gut.

Step 2: Create a Vision-board

This next step is crucial. One cannot just contain their desires, dreams, and goals inside of their head, easily to be forgotten and rejected. We need to bring them to life. Consider your idea to be your baby, growing inside of you for a few months until eventually, you have to birth it. Write ‘em goals down people, they ain’t gonna write ’emselves! What I find exciting to do is have a big board on my wall separated into different categories. Under each category, I decide what it is I want to achieve, when I want to achieve it and how I will achieve it by doing daily tasks. There are many digital vision board apps that you can even download on your phone.

The categories include:

  • mental health – remind yourself to always think of positive things and feed your mind with brain food. An example is reminding yourself of the fruits of the spirit and focusing on implementing just one into each day to remember to build a healthy mind – because we often forget, and get caught up too much in ourselves and our own problems. 
  • Physical heath – how many of you have had the same gym goal as the same new year’s resolution for the past 5 years? Time for a mid-month resolution that you will actually stick to, and when should you start? Start now! Even if it is as small as eating an apple a day, set small tasks and step it up a notch until you are attending the gym twice a week, then four times, and eventually you cannot wait for your Saturday evening gym session because the gym is quiet enough for nobody to disturb your sweaty intense crazy session.
  • Spiritual Heath – feed your soul, read, reach others, meditate – whatever you feel you need to do, plan it into your daily routine and just keep consistent. A breakthrough will come your way, just step out of that comfort zone, stop worrying too much on the things that won’t be there when you pass away – feed your soul.
  • Finance/Desires – this one we all probably have written in our mind already, thinking about what we want financially comes easily to most, but when setting these goals, we need to be specific. Set goals that are harder to achieve rather than what you think is easily possible. Don’t just say “I want more money”. I’ll give you R5 then, there you go your wish came true. Determine an amount of money you want to be earning by the end of this year, and trust me, you will notice the opportunities right in front of you once you open your eyes. Once one of these harder goals get achieved, you won’t believe how magical it feels.
  • Work-related goals – how can you improve your workflow and make processes easier, learn more and be better at work? How can you help others? And what can you learn from thers? Once you figure this out and implement it, and once your boss notices this, you can thank me later for your promotion 😉
  • Personal hobbies – define what makes you happy and dedicate time for this. If it is a holiday, start saving now to go to Thailand next year. It might be far away but slow and steady wins the race. Don’t waste your money on frivolous things that satisfy you now and are over tomorrow. Plan ahead. Maybe you have been wanting to learn an instument, or learn to dance or cook new recipes…
  • Personalize it – whatever creative way that you set your goals, make it your own and make it something you will enjoy looking at daily. Whether it be making a scrapbook with your ideas, or in a secret diary if you want it to be more personal, maybe even creating a visual one where you add pictures instead of words, who knows, just make it yours!

Step 3 – Celebrate the wins

Like I said earlier, no matter how much we achieve in life, we will never truly be satisfied, and because of this, it is important to celebrate the little things in life. If you pass your exam, take yourself out for dinner, if you got that big client you were hoping for treat yourself to a day spa – make time to rest and recover, that is why God made Sundays – don’t forget to treat yourself.

Step 4 – Be Spontaneous

As mentioned above, as a creative, we hate following the same everyday routine. So this is why I added this one, in order for us to not become crazier than we already are, we need some mystery, excitement, and spontaneity. Let’s surprise ourselves by using our goals. For example, I love reading, and one of my goals is to read one book a month this year. So, to treat myself I can get a spontaneous book.

Another idea is going on a random trip by closing your eyes and pinning a place on the map, or simply just driving anywhere that your mind leads on roads you never go for an hour and see where you land up, but, take a person with you of course, but spontaneity helps with creativity and could inspire you on your next journey. Make one day a month to be unpredictable as a goal on your vision board. This step is more to help you keep inspired and enjoying the process, rather than getting bored of a routine, but if you are getting really bored of your chosen direction, it is never too late to change course…

To conclude, my fellow creatives, rather set your mind on achieving one big thing and set smaller achievable daily tasks, rather than trying to focus on a million small tasks and in the end only to find out you have achieved nothing but being friends with Tom, Dick, and Harry. So I am challenging you to think about your biggest goal currently, the one that makes you really excited, and break this one big (focused) task into baby small steps, write them down and get somebody to hold you accountable.



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